Wednesday Oct 03 2012
Mystery lights solved! It was LED-equipped sailplanes
By: Martha Garcia, Colfax Record Editor
Exhibition flight to be held Saturday in Colfax
The unidentified flying objects seen in the night sky lately are no longer a mystery, but they are the result of modern technology. The “UFOs” are electric sailplanes called Radians that are modified with hundreds of LED lights for night flying. Colfax artist Jim Bowers said he and Terry Wilson, of Lincoln, developed the new hobby about two years ago and have perfected the sport to fly in what he describes as more "confined" areas. One favorite flying location is the Roy Toms Plaza parking lot, behind Colfax’s Railroad Junction building. Another popular site is the hilltop over the Foresthill Bridge in Auburn. The planes, Bowers said, are powered electrically by battery and are capable of flying to altitudes over 1,500 feet. One battery charge allows the pilots to fly for 15-20 minutes. Range on the gliders is over a mile. Wilson – who owns Placer Glass in Lincoln – said LED lights have been in existence for a while but it hasn’t been until recently that the strips could be purchased by the meter. “The LED lights don’t use up much electricity so you can put a lot of them on there,” he said. Wilson said performing a pre-flight connection check is important, because the alternative is costly. “If there’s an issue with the lights and the plane goes dark, it’s gone,” he said. A complete Radian is valued at about $400, and Wilson said he owns in “excess” of 10 of them. Bowers and Wilson will hold an exhibition flight at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Roy Toms Plaza parking lot, for anyone who is interested in understanding the sport, or just checking out these “UFOs.” Go to YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaPjNh5DVLg&feature=g-upl to watch Bowers and Wilson fly sailplanes near the Foresthill Bridge.